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Sundays with Sacco: A pride in voting for Manning, Thompson

The 2016 presidential election is in the political spotlight, but that's not the only voting arena being contemplated currently; there are significant votes in the sports world as well.

The Broncos recently named its 2016 Ring of Fame class, for example.

From interacting with Wounded Warriors to meeting the president of the United States, the Broncos' visit to the White House was a memorable experience. (photos by Ben Swanson

At the national level, when the National Football Foundation inducts its new members into the College Football Hall of Fame in December, I will be proud to watch Marlin Briscoe be inducted. Not only was Briscoe the first African-American quarterback in pro football, but he was a great player at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and I was honored to vote for his selection.

The ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 arrived several days ago, and there were several choices that were no brainers for me.

I thought I would share these with our readers.

First and foremost is Peyton Manning. As the only person who works for the Broncos who is on the NFF board and also has eligibility to vote, I think that makes me the first person in Colorado to actually vote for Manning's election to any Hall of Fame.

There is a long list of eligible candidates, but there is only one Peyton Manning. The other day I talked with Joe Horrigan, Vice President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Joe told me about a conversation he just had with Hall of Famer Joe Namath about Peyton.

Their conclusion, verified by Horrigan in Hall research, it that Manning actually has one more "first" that has not been discussed.


Manning is the first quarterback in history whose last pass was a successful two-point conversion — that strike to wide receiver Bennie Fowler to put an extra two points on the board after Denver's final touchdown in Super Bowl 50.

And not only that, but the two-point strike came in the 200th quarter of Super Bowl history (50 games, four quarters, 200 total), and when that quarter ended Manning had his record 200th pro win (regular season and postseason combined). Horrigan was dazzled when I gave him that stat.

It was indeed an honor to put Manning's name down on my ballot. He is eligible for this Hall because of his great career at the University of Tennessee, of course.

The full list of my FBS Player Selections include, alphabetically, are Eric Bieniemy (University of Colorado), Terrell Buckley (Florida State, a Bronco in 2000), Eric Dickerson (Southern Methodist), Bobby Humphrey (University of Alabama and a starter for us in Super Bowl XXIX), Raghib Ismail (Notre Dame), Ernie Jennings (United States Air Force Academy), Peyton Manning (University of Tennessee), Phil Olsen (Utah State, a Bronco in 1975-76), Jake Plummer (Arizona State, 2003-06 with the Broncos), Simeon Rice (Illinois, 2007 with Broncos), Rashaan Salaam (University of Colorado Heisman Trophy winner), and Brian Urlacher (New Mexico).

There are also two votes allowed for FBS Coach Selections, and I voted for Danny Ford (Clemson and Arkansas) and Steve Spurrier (Duke, Florida and South Carolina).

There are four Divisional Player Selections as well, and I was deeply honored to cast a ballot for Billy Thompson, known to all Broncos fans as one of our great Ring of Fame players. But "BT" was just as great in college at Maryland State (now Maryland-Eastern Shore), where he was a brilliant defensive back and kick returner, as well as excelling in baseball well enough to be selected in the Major League Baseball draft.


"BT" had 61 career takeaways (interceptions and fumble recoveries) as a Broncos defensive back and remains the only player in pro football history to lead the league in both kickoff returns and punt returns in the same season (1969).

My other three Divisional Player Selections are Bill Bergey (Arkansas State), Blake Elliott (St. John's University of Minnesota), and Gary Wichard (C.W. Post).

Finally, we are allowed to vote for two Divisional Coach Selections, and I voted for Larry Kehres (Mount Union, where he won 11 NCAA Division III National Championships) and Mel Tjeerdsma (Austin, Northwest Missouri State). Tjeerdsma had 246 career wins as a head coach, including three NCAA Division II National Championships.

That's my ballot for the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame. Results will be announced Friday, January 6, 2017 in Tampa, Florida, the site of this year's College Football Playoff National Championship.

My lengthy career has afforded me the opportunity to do many things, but I am as proud of anything to personally vote for the College Football Hall of Fame, and particularly checking the names of Peyton Manning and Billy Thompson on my ballot.

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